Kilmarnock defeated St Mirren 1-0 in a tight Premiership contest at a sun-drenched St Mirren Park on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides were content to feel each other out in the opening stages but Kilmarnock were jolted into life when Lee Erwin struck the crossbar with a header in the 23rd minute and five minutes later, they were in front.
A slick one-two on the right side allowed Chris Burke the freedom to drive a cross towards the six-yard box, which Nicke Kabamba turned past Jak Alnwick into the net.
The returning keeper pulled off an outstanding save in the early stages of the second half to keep St Mirren in the game but despite the hosts enjoying more of the possession and pressing hard for a winner in the closing stages, Kilmarnock held on for all three points.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Kabamba proving a capable target man
Nicke Kabamba signed from Hartlepool United in January 2020 and didn’t have long to make an impression before football was shut down due to the global health crisis.
He’s started 2020/21 promisingly, though, and he delivered in Paisley.
Left to feed off scraps for most of the game, the 27-year-old held the ball up well and worked hard to harry Buddies defenders until his big chance came just prior to the half-hour mark.
Kabamba anticipated Burke’s plan and got in front of his marker, before finishing cooly from close range despite being under considerable pressure.
He now has four goals in his last four appearances and is coming up trumps for Alex Dyer.
Buddies lack creativity as poor run continues
St Mirren came into this game in need of a victory after four consecutive defeats but the hosts never really looked like winning this one.
The first chance of the game fell to Lee Erwin and a Danny Rogers fumble five minutes from the interval almost allowed the hosts to cancel out Kilmarnock’s opener.
Yet, even though they enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after the break, very few opportunities were created from open play.
Junior Morais was as willing as ever and the brightest of St Mirren’s attackers, but he didn’t manage to produce an end product – even when presented with a golden opportunity at the death – and St Mirren can’t feel too hard done by with the result.
Tshibola stands out in midfield
Kabamba found the net, Burke showed his quality from the right and Calum Waters contributed plenty for Killie in attack.
However, Aaron Tshibola was the star man for the visitors.
The DR Congo international brought power and energy to the Killie midfield, using the ball well to initiate attacks before moving forward to provide support to Kabamba.
He endured a difficult period in Europe, firstly with Waasland Beveren in Belgium and then at Aves of Portugal, but he was delighted to get the opportunity to return to Rugby Park and he’s played almost every minute since.
Tshibola’s work ethic is impressive but it was his composure on the ball in a relatively feisty fixture which saw him stand out from the crowd.